So a few weeks ago, I made a post about Spring Break with my Little One. I mentioned briefly that we went to Arkansas to go visit my grandma, but I wanted to really expand on that today.
My grandpa passed away in 2012, so he never got a chance to meet my daughter. However, there were these songs that he used to sing to me growing up. One is “Poor Babes in the Woods” and the other is “Jolly Playmate”. I started singing these to Little Miss E when I was still pregnant. I sing them to her every night.
The first night we stayed with my grandma, E was struggling to get comfortable enough to go to sleep. After several hours of restlessness, I finally got her into her bassinet and ready to sleep. I was almost asleep when I heard (and my mom heard) a man’s voice sing the first few lines of “Poor Babes in the Woods”. The next night, when we asked my great-uncle about it, he told us he couldn’t sing the song at all. That he was familiar with it, but didn’t know it.
We spent a good chunk of the week with my aunt, uncle, and cousins, Kristen and Atalie, and Atalie’s sweet baby D.
We wanted so desperately to be able to go on a hike up the mountain to my grandpa’s homestead…But guess what happened in the mountains, in Arkansas, in March?
So we waited, and waited, and waited, and on the last day, we finally called it, put E down for a nap, and my mom, aunt, cousin, and I hiked up the mountain.
Here’s my grandpa’s homestead story as I understand it.
My great-grandfather, James, was a very religious man. So much so that when his wife, Nina’s, brothers started a moonshine business in Oklahoma and hid the product on his land, he sold the land, packed up his family, and moved them to Arkansas on whim. While they stood at the train station, they met a military leader’s wife who thought their children were precious and let them live in her guest house.
James bought land at the top of a mountain, and then was known to slip away to fast and pray on the mountaintop, leaving his wife and children to fend for themselves.
My grandpa described his mother, Nina, as being a strong woman that he looked up to. She did the cooking, cleaning, hunting, cleaning of the animals, harvest, child raising, etc. As the story goes, one day while James was on the mountaintop and Nina was taking care of the children, some neighbors came by, saw the family without a cabin, and built it for them.
They used the natural rock formations as walls, making the lower section as the “first floor” and the upper section as a “second floor”. They dug out of one section of rock to make a fridge.
There were some beautiful artifacts left that our family refuses to touch. History, you know?
I believe that natural objects, like wood, stone, water, etc. can almost hold the energy of things that happened in that area. There’s a feeling of ease and calm that settles over me when I stand on what was the second floor of my grandfather’s homestead. It’s hard to explain, but there’s a palpable feeling of love that soaked into the stone and breathes into the air when touched.
I love this place in a way I can’t begin to explain. And maybe in a way you can’t understand unless you’ve felt it too.
Till next time